Timing is everything.
On my second morning of walking the Camino de Santiago up the coast of Portugal, I was struck by how different it was than my daily life back home in Chicago. You can't wander around a big American city without being bombarded with caution lights, parking signs, danger signs, and rules and boundaries of every description.
But here in these towns and villages, there were no guard rails on the footbridges, no warning signs, no walk/don’t walk signals. I remember standing stupidly on the sidewalk, longing to cross a busy street to the café I saw on the other side.
I watched, horrified, as other pedestrians simply stepped out into the traffic — just threw themselves into mortal danger with no apparent fear. I was equally amazed when the zooming cars braked for them. Just stopped, in the middle of the road, to let them pass. And waved merrily as they speed off again. The drivers don't appear irritated or inconvenienced; making a path for others is part of their village life.
But this way of thinking is foreign to me. I'm used to a world where everyone is only concerned with their own progress. So I stand on the curb, hyperventilating. I want bedrock assurances that the cars will stop before I put myself in peril. The drivers stare at me impatiently — what am I waiting for? Certainty? Perfection?
This is how we live, sometimes. Standing on the curb, immobilized by fear, watching others take the risks. Clutching our big dreams against our chests, keeping them safe from the dangers of rejection — or worse, obscurity.
The drivers whiz by, reminding me there’s no such thing as perfect timing. No substitute for taking that first scary step, and trusting the Universe to know what it’s doing.
The cafe across the street beckons, tempting me with fragrant coffee, and creamy cheese pastry things I can’t pronounce, and tiny, hand-held pies. I’m starving, and I have 18 miles to walk today on my way to Santiago.
I finally take hold of my courage and sprint into the traffic, looking neither right nor left, keeping my eyes focused on the prize in front of me.
This is what I should be doing every day: I should make that phone call I've been dreading, or press “send” on a pitch to a client, or fly off to a new country solo.
What kind of world is this? Where you signal your intention to move forward, you step one foot out into danger, and suddenly, your path is clear? Where you don’t wait for perfect timing — you just face forward, keep working and just believe?
It’s a dreamer’s world. Stop waiting for perfect moment, the perfect product, the perfect weather. It doesn’t exist. Step out there, and watch your path appear. Trust that all these forces, completely unknown to you, completely out of your control, will see to your safety.
And have some pie. You deserve it.